Thursday, 13 March 2008
Dáil Eireann Debate
13. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when he proposes to act on the recommendations in the Arts in Education Report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10963/08]
Deputy Séamus Brennan: I refer the Deputy to my reply of 12 February last. As I outlined then, meetings are taking place between officials from my Department, the Department of Education and Science and the Arts Council to consider the recommendations contained in the draft report. This inter-agency group has been examining the report and is identifying ways of implementing and giving effect to the practical recommendations that it contains.
These recommendations reflect the result of the wide-ranging and in-depth research that was conducted by the committee set up to consider this important issue. This is the first such study of its nature for some considerable time and it is important that a reasoned and practical approach be adopted to considering its recommendations.
Deputy Olivia Mitchell: I know the Minister is keen to increase participation in the arts and made a speech to that effect at the launch of the NESF report, which went down well with the players in the arts. I reiterate the point that unless we increase participation in the arts through the schools, the arts will always be on the fringe. We must mainstream the arts. The Minister is probably too polite to say this, but I am not — if there is inertia here, it is coming from the Department of Education and Science. I know it is the Department that is most resistant to change. Therefore, it falls to the Minister to drive this. If it is to proceed, he will have to get behind it. It must be his initiative. I am sure he accepts that but I ask him to take that burden. Schools are the key in turning around participation in the arts but the arts should not just be an occasional experience for students. While the artists in residence programme, for example, is wonderful, it is not permanently in place in schools. It is available in a school one year, but not the next, meaning the next cohort of students do not get to enjoy it. It is tantalising and it is almost worse than nothing to give students something and then take it away.
Deputy Séamus Brennan: I have sent the report back to the Arts Council with a request that it come up with some practical recommendations. Some of the recommendations, in my view, are not very practical. They need to be fleshed out some more so I have returned the report to the Arts Council and asked it to do that.
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